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Full text of "History And Human Relation"

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it matter whether the same historian, in the capacity of
judge, has powej: to measure the actual guilt of this, or
ft) decide upon the culprit's real deserts ?

It matters because the historian who leaves the realm
of explanation and description, and moves into the world
of moral judgments, is in reality trying to take upon
himself (and to claim for his intellectual system) a new
dimension. Very quickly this has its effect on the whole
shape and setting which he gives to the course of things
in time, and on his whole conception of the drama of
human life in history. The morality comes to be
worked into the organisation of the narrative and the
structure of the historical scene in a manner that is
illegitimate. What is projected across the length and
breadth of the centuries is the pattern of a universe in
which the good men are fighting the bad from onú
generation to another; so that the whole historical
fabric, at whatever point we choose to observe it, is shot
through with the colourful contrast of divine right and
diabolical wrong. It transpires that the fabric is in
truth like a piece of shot silk, for the colour of its parts
seems to depend very largely on the way the observer
looks at them, after all; and for one historian the
Catholic or the royalist or the capitalist or the aristocratic
cause may seem to be the absolutely virtuous one, while
for another historian only the Protestant or the parlia-
mentarian or the Liberal or the Socialist is on the side of
righteousness. Not only does that magnificent war of
Right versus Wrong come to look suspiciously political
therefore, but historiography itself is seen to be split
from top to bottom, so that what some men regard as